The Leviathan is a mythical sea beast, and Leviathan Hornpipe will eat your 4th finger if you aren’t careful. It is a bit of a beast as a tune. It’s so good at working your fourth finger (in the B Part) that I use it as a tune to teach my students when it’s appropriate to use 4th finger, and when it’s appropriate to use an open string.
I learned Leviathan Hornpipe out of Cole’s 1000 Fiddle Tunes while I was getting ready to leave for my semester in England. After I sight read it, I loved the phrasing of the B Part and 4th finger pattern, so of course I had to add it to my repertoire. I highly recommend getting a copy of Cole’s 1000 fiddle tunes if you don’t own it. It is an invaluable resource for adding tunes to your list, and the versions are excellent “just the melody” versions, so you can learn the melody and then dress it up to make it your own.
Learn to play Leviathan Hornpipe on fiddle here
LEVIATHAN HORNPIPE. American, Hornpipe. G Major (Ryan/Cole): B Flat Major (Howe). Standard tuning. AABB. Al Smitley suggests the tune may possibly have been named for the clipper ship Leviathon, a name that appears in American Clipper Ships 1833-1858 by Howe and Matthews. However, in the mid-19th century it was an occasional fashion, particularly with blackface minstrel troupes, for entitling things (including themselves) in superlatives such as ‘mammoth’, ‘mastadon’ (c.f. The Original Mastodon Minstrels), ‘leviathan’ etc. The ‘A’ part resembles that of “Lardners’ .” Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 112. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; pg, 61. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 150.